“The building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.”
First line of Blood Rites, book six of The Dresden Files. Oh, Harry, it’s good to have you back.
I think I can safely say after finishing book five and then immediately reading book six that I’m a Dresden Files fan. Good thing there are seven more, and counting, in the series.
You know how some people get really into reading long-running mystery series? Well, The Dresden Files is my attempt at that, except it’s more urban fantasy (with a large dollop of witty humor) than crime thriller. A blurb from Entertainment Weekly in my edition describes the series best: “Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Philip Marlowe.” That sounds a lot better than my attempt: “It’s like Guy Noir, Private Eye…if Guy was a wizard and blew things up a lot.”
I’m not going to say much about book six specifically because it would be a spoiler bonanza. I will say it’s my favorite yet and for the majority of the book Harry carries a puppy around in his duster pocket. It’s adorable.
The way The Dresden Files works is with each book we see Harry Dresden on his worst possible day of the year where everything goes wrong. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut, so he’ll start making wisecracks with faerie queens, vampire nobility, and the local mob boss—not the best way to insure his safety. He’s constantly getting beat up, blown up, coerced, and put through extreme sleep deprivation. Good thing he’s a wizard or else I don’t think he would have survived this long, let alone the entire series. He is always running around Chicago using his wizard staff as a flamethrower, ostensibly because he was hired for a job, but really because he’s saving the world. Again. He’s a good guy like that.
The recurring secondary characters are by no means cardboard cutout foils for Harry, not at all. We have Karrin Murphy, Harry’s police contact, who reminds me strongly of Kate Beckett from Castle. Her wit is just as sharp as Harry’s and she has spunk to spare (but don’t tell her that). There’s Michael Carpenter who is a Knight of the Cross. He’s the earnest moral compass of the series whose wife is constantly angry with Harry for putting her husband in danger. There’s Thomas Raith, the vampire who shows up for a lark in his sports car and designer clothes and drinks emotions, not blood. And Bob the skull, a spirit of knowledge who lives in Harry’s lab, serves as his magical assistant, and is bribed with spicy romance novels. They’re all a hoot
What I particularly love about The Dresden Files is that past events strongly affect the current book’s plot. Mysteries series of all flavors are naturally episodic and can easily fall into the trap of poor character development over the course of a series, but The Dresden Files avoids that pitfall easily. With each additional book all the characters evolve and their histories get a little richer. Though I love a good plot full of explosions, it’s the characters I come back for. Otherwise, I wouldn’t care if they died.
Read it so we can talk about how much we’d like to find men in real life who can pull off wearing dusters in an uncreepy fashion.
PS Oh my goodness, why has it taken me so long to get writing again? Apologies, apologies.
PPS Also apologies for the random blank post that was sent out to subscribers. That was me pushing the “publish” button too early.